Four steps independent agents can take to become more philanthropically involved in their communities.
With the “Great Resignation" upon us, employers are looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. The insurance industry is in a unique position to do so by naturally providing something that employees want: a sense of purpose and community.
Giving back is at the heart of the insurance industry. It is in everything we do. “Employees' connection to your organization's purpose is as unique as the employee themselves," reported the Harvard Business Review in a case study of companies successfully retaining employees. “Acknowledging when someone personally embodies your organizational purpose provides wonderful reinforcement and reminds others to be intentional about doing the same."
Here are four steps independent agents can take to become more philanthropically involved in their communities and build a culture grounded by employees who love what they do and who want to give back:
1) Build a culture around philanthropic events. Working together on meaningful volunteer projects that are important to the community builds camaraderie among employees, gives them a feeling of pride and fosters a sense of team spirit.
At Newfront Insurance, we've been involved in a program called Rebuilding Together Peninsula that repairs homes, revitalizes communities and helps rebuild lives. When these projects are completed, we can see the tangible result of a hard day's work.
2) Support nonprofits. Insurance is an industry rooted in the noble purpose of helping people, and we recognize the value of helping others. As an industry, we can't simply support nonprofits through contributions at the corporate level—though that is important—we have to provide ways to allow our team members to feel they are contributing to what matters to them.
We strive to provide a home at the intersection of work, love and play at Newfront. As a part of that work, we encourage employees to get involved with nonprofits in ways that work for them. Our employees can apply for a grant to help their church, their children's school or the local food bank.
The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) is also a great resource for insurance industry professionals to find nonprofit activities and events and connect with others who make giving back a priority. While industry professionals could previously only work with IICF through a corporate relationship, IICF recently opened membership to individuals via its new Global Membership program. IICF Global Membership presents an opportunity for independent agents and anyone in the industry to get involved.
3) Build relationships and host events for a cause. Independent agents with limited resources who want to make a difference have options through their carrier partners, as many have reserve funds for marketing partnerships. Agents looking to host or participate in charitable events should consider reaching out to their carrier partners to learn whether they are interested in supporting the endeavor.
For example, we sponsor a golf tournament every year for the benefit of the American Cancer Society (ACS), and we rely on our carrier partners to make it happen. Over the years, we've raised $800,000 by hosting the tournament. This strengthens the relationship between the broker and the carrier and allows the ACS to bolster its mission.
Coming out of the coronavirus pandemic, employees are going to want more touchpoints like these that create camaraderie through philanthropic opportunities.
4) Boost diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The face of the insurance industry has looked the same for many years. But a career in insurance is one of the best-kept secrets out there. We have to get that message out and work to attract people from all backgrounds to consider a career in insurance. We need job seekers to know that we provide an exciting career with solid pay, work-life balance, advancement opportunities and community involvement, all in an environment that is supportive and inclusive.
Initiatives to support DEI will help the industry attract talent from diverse backgrounds as the talent struggle continues. One way to do this is by launching employee resource groups (ERGs) to support all employees within an organization. Our ERG for Black employees, BlackFront, has a budget to support advancement through sponsoring the National Black MBA Association, National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA), colleges and groups that are helping more Black people enter the industry. All of these ERGs take on efforts to give back to the community and create safe, supportive spaces for people who share a common identity.
By building an inclusive, inviting and inspiring workplace, and providing opportunities to get out of the office and give back to the community, employees will see our companies as more than just a workplace. This has been our goal—and we have seen a return on that investment with happy employees who are innovative, collaborative and passionate about their work.
As the insurance industry continues to look for ways to attract the best and brightest, it will be important to convey that this is a career that is about so much more than selling policies and handling claims.
Brian Hetherington is president of Newfront Insurance, a board member of IICF's Western Division and a Founding Circle member of the new IICF Global Membership.